Computer technology has its advantages written all over our daily activities and it’s undebatable that it has improved lives.Everything now is done online, right from studies to dating, banking to shopping and virtually anything else you can think of.
For all my nostalgia over things like letter writing, hard paper books and the joy of shopping physically, I cannot wish to go back to a time where there were no personal computers, smartphones or the internet. With every new app, device, and utility, we all become more dependent on the various information technologies. Yet it is this dependence that makes us vulnerable to new forms of personal and corporate attacks.
Nothing is infallible and computer-technology is not an exception. People are oblivious to the danger they expose themselves every time they go online, receive an email or even click that pop-up link that shows up randomly. Cybersecurity attacks are growing at an alarming rate quickly going beyond simple social sites identity theft to corporate espionage, international terrorism among other forms.
The last couple of years In March 2015, Primera Blue Cross Company, a health insurance company in Washington State, fell victims of cyber-attack where 11million customers were affected. Hackers gained access to the system and the breach could have exposed member’s names, dates of birth, social security numbers, and dates of birth.
In another cyber-attack, on November 2014 Sony pictures were the victims. The hackers wiped clean several internal data centers and led to the cancellation of the theatrical release of “The Interview” and also contracts and salaries information was stolen. Just to cite few examples of past prominent attacks against corporates.
From last year the incidents escalated with some even suspected to be state-sponsored. Corporates and individuals are called to be vigilant if they are to keep up with the dynamic threat of cyber-attacks. The first step in finding a solution to these attacks is to understand the forms or rather types they come in. These forms are clearly enumerated below.
1. Brute force attack
The brute force attack gets its name because it resorts to using exhaustive effort and not of intellectual strategies will use a specially designed software that attacks a password-protection mechanism. The software attempts to guess the password by generating several combinations. The more characters a password has, takes more time and resources to crack. It may be time-consuming but it is considered infallible.
2. Injection Attacks
These attacks target web apps data. There are various forms of injection attacks;
I. SQL Injection Attack
It targets a server that stores critical data for websites and uses SQL to manage the data in their databases. In this attack, a malicious code or data is injected into the server that enables the hacker to instruct the database. The database ends up performing unauthorized functions like dumping all the stored usernames and passwords on the site.
II. Cross-site Scripting
It targets the users of a website. The malicious code injected, will only run through user’s browser when the user accesses the attacked website. After which the web app will run instructions that you haven’t authorized.
3. Social engineering/cyber fraud
It targets individuals, basically the people who use a given network. It is based on trust and manipulation. It is quite obvious that hackers cannot ask for password directly. They use several of forms of impersonation that you cannot suspect any malice. The hacker can send you an email that will appear to be coming from the CEO and unknowingly one might end up giving up sensitive information to the wrong person.
In social engineering, the attacker works on the psychology of the victim who could be a private individual or a company employee. There are several forms of social engineering including;
an attack where the victim is manipulated mostly in an email such that he or she exposes sensitive personal information which the attacker steals. The emails are designs to evoke fear or urgency
the attacker fabricates a situation largely through impersonation to create a false sense of trust from the victim and exploit the created vulnerability.
gain information through the promise of a free item or good in exchange for some personal information
IV. Quid pro quo
similar to baiting with the only difference being the promise of a service.
Malware is an acronym obtained from the words malicious software. In this attack, malicious software injected into the system is designed to gain unauthorized access. There are various types of malware that are discussed below;
A software is introduced to keep tabs on your network. This is normally done to obtain passwords, confidential information or gain access to unidentifiable information.
It uses existing computer services to replicate itself without any help from the user. It eats into the system and spreads through the network. It allows access to a network and it also can use up space on your server causing the server to crash,
In this case, your computer is locked till you pay a particular ransom to get it back.
This is a malicious code that attaches itself to a program and replicates when the user runs the program.
Trojan horse malware can appear legitimate but once run it opens a door for hackers to get in and access your files or network.
This kind of malware comes disguised as a pop-up that issues a warning that encourages the user to download a particular software for their own safety.
This is spread through an advertisement that provides some form of financial benefit to the hacker. After being infected by adware, the victim is hit by a series of pop-ups, toolbars and search bars and other forms of ads whenever they try to access the internet.
Cybersecurity attacks are preventable. It is better to learn from others mistakes rather than your own.
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How To Prevent Cyber Attacks?
Below are the ways to prevent cyber attacks:
I. Back up files, consistently
When files are backed up consistently one can always access them in case of a ransomware or when data has been deleted. The files should be backed up in an insulated, external environment so that you can access them without paying a fee.
II. Update Everything
Update security software, browsers, and antivirus. Updated versions of security software provide round the clock protection to networks and devices from the infection of newer malware attacks.
III. Stop malware when it Starts
This involves stopping malware from spreading to a compromised system
IV. Encryption of Data
This is a method that has been widely used and has worked. It is a safe way of preventing cyber-attacks despite the format the system uses. Encryption keys should be stored somewhere safe, separate from the encrypted data.
This method is useful in preventing injection attacks. It ensures that only authorized users are able to input data into an app or website.
VI. Choose a firewall that offers superior threat protection and high performance
Look for a firewall that has been independently tested and certified for network-based malware protection by ICSA.
VII. Choose a firewall that protects global Threats
Quick response to cyber-attacks is essential. A firewall should have a universal functionality where it protects the system from mild and severe attacks.
VIII. Educating Users
Make users aware of suspicious emails, links and coming up with ways of reporting anything they suspect to be fraudulent. Encourage them to constantly reset their passwords and also install passwords on their systems.
IX. Employ or consult cybersecurity Experts
Be in constant contact with cybersecurity experts. This will ensure that you are aware of the new ways hackers are employing. It will also ensure that your system is constantly updated with new and effective ways of preventing cyber-attacks.
X. Intrusion Detection Systems
This will ensure that attackers do not exploit network vulnerabilities. The program also monitors the system for bad behavior.
Cybersecurity attacks are severe and grave when they hit, in fact, it has been ranked by the FBI as one of its top priorities. “I have nothing to hide” has been an all-time excuse held by many and this has exposed them various forms of cyber security attack. Being complacent with your cyber security or uninformed of the newest threats comes with a price no one can afford to pay. We are called to be vigilant, diligent and watchful.